I recently came across a promotional poster for Greek Intervarsity, a part of the well-known Intervarsity Christian Fellowship campus ministry. As a fraternity member myself, I appreciate the focus of this organization greatly. I would have benefited from a Christian influence “on the inside.” Yet there are a few things worth noting regarding the underlying message of this well-intentioned promo.
In accord with other Reformed thinkers, I’m slightly perplexed by the evangelical preoccupation with influencing the wider culture through the presidency and presidential elections. Evangelicals place too much emphasis on the presidential cycle to the exclusion of baser concerns. But even more significant is that the premise of this message is flawed from a logical standpoint. It may very well be the case that the salvation of a potential future president during his or her fraternity/sorority days might exclude the candidate from future activities necessary to the attainment of the presidency in the first place. The presidency is not decided on elections alone. One must have certain connections with those with political power, influence, and money. These connections don’t just happen randomly. We should not be so naïve as to think the mode in which these connections are formed would always be appropriate for Christians.
Transformation from within is a good idea so long as transformation is always defined as the regeneration of souls by the Holy Spirit. However, transformationalism is more often cast in terms of socio-political and cultural influence, and it frequently comes at the expense of biblical polity. I’m not convinced that “ministry activities” within fraternity and sorority houses are the greatest idea, though I would be happy to be convinced otherwise. This is one person’s story, but in my experience, I needed to excise myself from my surrounding influences when the Lord called me to repentance. I kept my closest friends, but in general, the ethos of the Greek environment was a great detriment to my spiritual walk.
Toward the end of my time on campus, several young men were meeting for bible study in my fraternity house, but without the necessary ecclesiological emphasis that would engender a relationship with a local church, the study was misguided at best. Indeed, I had some friends that would attend services on Sunday morning because the girl sleeping over the night before insisted. There was no accountability, shepherding, discipline, or call to repentance. Though it may have a potentially useful role in such an endeavor, a campus ministry is not a suitable replacement for the local church.
This is not an indictment of campus ministries, especially those that want to focus on the Greek system. I wish someone would have had more of this focus while I was an undergraduate Greek student. But I also desire that as a Church, we engage in this needed ministry critically and with an appropriate view of our goals and the means by which we seek to achieve them.
* One small matter of statistical accuracy—you can’t make out the statistical reference in the image, but my fraternity was founded in 1856, 21 years before the supposed founding of social fraternities. That 68% might be a tad bit lower.